Romance of the Pink Panther was to be the seventh film in the Pink Panther series and would have starred Peter Sellers in the role of Chief Inspector Clouseau in his sixth Panther appearance. Herbert Lom would have reprised his role as Charles Dreyfus, with the character now working as a private detective. Unfortunately, the unexpected death of Peter Sellers in July 1980 led to the projects eventual abandonment. Only two script drafts were completed.
The film, written by Peter Sellers and Jim Moloney, from Moloneys original story treatment, was originally scheduled to have begun filming in September or October 1980, for a summer release in 1981. But shooting was delayed until early 1981, since Sellers was expected to first undergo open heart surgery.
Bumbling French police inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) tries to catch The Phantom, a daring jewel thief whose identity and features are unknown - and is acting right under his nose. The first film in director Blake Edwards' Pink Panther series.
Sidney Poitier had originally been attached to direct. The first draft of the Sellers-Moloney screenplay was submitted in December 1979; however, the project stalled until Sellers wife Lynne Frederick came aboard as executive producer, and Clive Donner signed to direct in April 1980. Sellers and Moloney began work on a rewrite at that time which was completed just days before Sellers sudden death of heart failure in July 1980. Donners wife, costume designer Jocelyn Rickards, was preparing designs for the film, as was veteran series production designer Peter Mullins for the anticipated shoot at Studio de Boulogne in Paris. Pamela Stephenson would have joined Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk, Graham Stark, Andre Maranne, and longtime Sellers friend Max Geldray on the film.
After Sellers death, the studio attempted to keep the project alive by discussing replacing Sellers with Dudley Moore as Clouseau. Moore, who had been Blake Edwards choice to play a new character in the series to replace Clouseau, ultimately decided to pass on the part. The studio approached Edwards to come aboard to direct the Sellers-Moloney script. Edwards rejected the idea of using Sellers script and instead stuck to replacing Clouseau rather than Sellers. The result was 1982s transitional film Trail of the Pink Panther, utilizing Sellers outtakes from 1976s The Pink Panther Strikes Again and 1983s failed relaunch, Curse of the Pink Panther, with Ted Wass as incompetent New York police detective Sergeant Clifton Sleigh.
Romance of the Pink Panther is referenced in the 2004 biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, but the film erroneously depicts the project as Blake Edwards, with Sellers uninterested in reprising his most famous role.
The two drafts
Two drafts were written: one was finished in December 1979, and the other one was finished in July 1980, eight days before Sellers death. Both drafts have the same basic storyline but are very different, most notably in their endings.
The plot of the film involved Clouseau falling in love with a daring cat burglar called "The Frog" (to be played by Pamela Stephenson), because of the scattered natures and locations of her crimes. The name was a pun on a British slur for the French. Clouseau would have pronounced the name like the 1960s dance "the froog," with detective and thief smitten with each another in spite of themselves.
The first draft saw Clouseau promoted to police commissioner at the conclusion and reinstating Dreyfus as Chief Inspector. In the revised draft, however, Clouseau retires from the force, marries Pamela Stephensons character...and joins her in a life of crime (similar to the fate given to Clouseau at the end of 1983s Curse of the Pink Panther).
Peter Sellers â€“ Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau
Pamela Stephenson - Comtesse Anastasia de Puissance, "the Frog"
Herbert Lom â€“ Charles Dreyfus, Private Investigator